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Bradly J VanDerStad: An angry Rhode Islander



I’m seething mad. I’m hopping mad. I have rage boiling up deep inside me and pouring out through the nasty looks I’m shooting at passers by this morning. While this is not the easiest time to condense my anger into words, I will for the good of the cause.

On August 14th in the evening, NeverAgainRI was staging their second peaceful protest. This time they sat on the sidewalk in front of the parking area of the Donald W Wyatt Detention Facility, a Central Falls for-profit prison housing ICE detainees, blocking Wyatt employees at their shift change. Suddenly, Wyatt employee Thomas Woodworth got tired of waiting for the demonstrators to move and drove his truck into the line. Protestors screamed. Two were hospitalized. After this, more correctional officers were dispatched to disperse the crowd with physical force and chemical gases.

Is this acceptable behavior in the United States of America? Is this the dystopian future that we have all been slowly conditioned to accept- private security teams strong-arming civilians and gassing them with the authority of police officers, all while state police stand idly by?

The research has been done. Undocumented immigrants commit less crime per capita than citizens and pay billions of dollars in sales taxes. The problem here is not that America doesn’t benefit from immigration, it does – the real issues are entrenched xenophobia and racism, avaricious corporations who benefit from the system as is (Amazon, Wayfair, and Wyatt itself lend easy examples), and feckless politicians who are not willing to do what it takes to stand up to the first two.

We are passed the point of statements, press conferences, and op-eds. I’m exhausted with “listening sessions” where placating politicians nod and listen, but never understand the urgency or scale of what is required. I don’t want to hear another announcement from a politician’s office unless it’s about a sit-in at the statehouse. I’m not going to waste any more breath. For the time being, it’s up to me and you.

Can we please ask a favor?

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One of the great burdens of democracy is that from time to time the place where it derives its power- ordinary people- are called upon to defend it. If you were waiting for a more direct call to action, I’m happy to provide it for you: get to work. Grab a sign. Hit the streets. Organize. Shout. Demand.

So call me a snowflake, just one more time. But don’t blink, because a blizzard is coming- and its going to be of ’78 proportions.


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